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A Congo Gold Mine

Editor's Note: Jon D. Markman writes a weekly column for CNBC on MSN Money that is republished here on

Bummed by all the gray-haired killjoys telling you that all the fun is gone from investing, that small-caps are dead, emerging markets are over, commodities are a bust and cash is king?

Then step right up to Jon's little House of Crazy Joy, because have I got a thrill-ride stock for you. It's an idea for these stressed-out times so ridiculous that no one in their right mind would consider it. So, you know, it just might work.

Don't call your financial adviser, in other words. She'll never go for it. Instead, put down your granny glasses, twirl a globe to equatorial Africa and put your finger smack in the middle on the fat patch of country the size of Western Europe. It's probably labeled Zaire, but after decades of civil war, dictatorship, corruption and name-changing, this minerals-blessed nation with fewer than 400 miles of paved roads prefers to be known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Hey, you know: tomato, to-mah-to. If a U.N.-sponsored election in three weeks works out as expected, you could call this place the Democratic Republic of Buried Treasure, because political stability will lead world credit-rating agencies to upgrade its sovereign rating -- an important step toward unlocking its incredible resources. For hidden beneath the DRC's dense mountain jungles are tens of billions of dollars worth of unexploited gold, diamonds, uranium, cobalt, tin and tungsten that have escaped major miners' grasp because the countryside has been far too dangerous to deploy modern equipment and workers.

The smart and sane way to play a new era of peace and prosperity in the DRC would be the shares of large international diggers such as BHP Billiton (BHP). But if you want to get all Jack Sparrow about it, then you'll want to know that the really big commercial winners will be a handful of small Canadian public companies with untapped claims that rank among the richest in the world.
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